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The Prophetic Mantle

Prophets suck. They are bearers of bad news, tend to be anti-social, are no fun to party with, dress funny. And they can't help telling the truth, even when it's uncomfortable. Especially when it's uncomfortable. Occupational hazard.

Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah... all despised prophets. Isaiah died (tradition tells us) by being sawn in two. Ezekiel was deported to Babylon. Jeremiah was stoned to death. All for telling the truth. And probably bad fashion sense.

These days, with everyone armed with some kind of platform (Instagram, et al.), you can't tell the truth from falsehood simply because of all the cacophony of modern life. Have you ever tried having a conversation in a loud room?

What's a prophet to do? Shout? Nope. Everyone's shouting. Whisper? Too quiet. Wave his hands in abject horror? And what... hope to get someone's attention away from FOX news and the endless loop of Instagram reels? Good luck. No, a prophet these days has to be content just telling the truth in his own little corner of the world and hope that someone just happens to be walking by. It's a bit like fishing with a tiny lure in a very large ocean. You just have to hope some unsuspecting fish swims by and takes a bite. It's a lonely occupation.

Which means, among other things, that it's a good idea to pay attention in the most unlikely places: third aisle of a bookstore, second shelf up, first book on the left, p.112; an old friend you haven't heard from (or reached out to) in over 20 years because life took over and whisked you both away; the call of an owl late at night from some nearby tree; the words to a song heard long ago in some foreign land (Rita Dove, "All Souls").

Happy hunting.

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